Have you hit a plateau? Are the pounds slower to come off these days? Are your muscles sore? Do you feel like blowing off your workout and diving into stuffed crust pizza with pepperoni? All that’s normal. Try these 10 smart ways to turbocharge your weight-loss efforts. When it comes to cooking and eating, tiny tweaks can add up to more pounds lost and another notch on your belt.
Master Your Midday Meal
1. Know Your Deli Meats
Sandwiches are the architecture of the common lunch-eater, but you need to start with a solid foundation. The hierarchy of health, in descending order:
- Turkey and chicken
- Roast beef
- Weird processed things like salami and olive loaf
2. Turn Your Sandwiches Green
Replace mayo with a spread of ripe avocado to moisten a dry sandwich. Avocados are packed with monounsaturated (good) fat to help lower your cholesterol. Plus, researchers at Ohio State University found that phytochemicals in avocados may help prevent mouth cancer.
3. Be Slick with Your Oil
"Avoid splashing 'light' olive oils over your salads," says Elena Paravantes, registered dietitian for the Hellenic Dietetic Association in Greece—light varieties have fewer cancer-fighting antioxidants than the extra-virgin kind, plus they have a less intense flavor. Not sure if your oil's up to snuff? "Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil should have a fruity, peppery, slightly bitter taste and leave a faint burning sensation on the throat," she says
Hone a Restaurant Strategy
4. Start Your Meal with an H20 Appetizer
Drink two glasses of water before every meal. This will keep you hydrated and make you feel less hungry, possibly reducing your food intake and aiding weight loss.
5. Always Say "Iced Tea"
Get into the healthy habit. When the waitress asks what you want to drink, always say "iced tea—unsweetened." You'll cut calories and earn a dose of antioxidants, which are crucial to your body's defense against heart disease, cancer, even wrinkles. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that a serving of black tea had more flavonoids than a serving of broccoli or carrots.
6. Go Halfsies
Here's a simple rule for buffet eating at a party that'll help you keep your meal balanced for weight loss: Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruit. Fill the rest of your plate with equal amounts of whole grains and other high-fiber carbs, and lean protein.
Give in to Chocolate Cravings
7. You don't have to deprive yourself of the sweet stuff.
Shave dark chocolate into savory dishes like chili and barbecue sauce--you'll add a rich flavor along with flavonoids. They can lower your risk of heart disease and keep your cholesterol in check. And shaving ensures you don't overboard on the dark.
8. Create the best steam for your broccoli
For perfectly cooked and nutrient-rich vegetables, rinse, throw them in a sealed container, and microwave for 3 or 4 minutes. Boiling, blanching, or oversteaming zaps vegetables of their nutrients—the only water you need is the drops that cling after rinsing.
9. Rinse Your Beans
Canned beans—kidney, cannellini, chickpeas—are a quick and easy way to add protein and fiber to your meals. But they can also spike your daily sodium intake, increasing your risk of stomach cancer and high blood pressure. Simply rinsing them, however, will shed one-third of their sodium.
10. Swap Red Meat for Lentils
To make a low-fat, antioxidant-packed lasagna, use half the usual amount of ground meat and make up the difference with red lentils. They're still protein packed, but lentils are fat-free and high in fiber, making them more filling, too. And since red lentils have a neutral taste, they'll simply soak up the flavors in your sauce. You won't even notice them. Promise.